being patronised

nom nom nom

For Father’s Day (which I feel is more of a ‘hallmark holiday’) I received a large Toblerone (yum) and a book. I have already finished the Toblerone, which I really enjoyed, and I am really enjoying the book. It’s called ‘1980-81 The Greatest Season In Ipswich Town’s History’. It came in a limited edition sleeve (only 1981 made). It tells the story and contains interviews with the players and staff who were part of the Ipswich Town team that won the UEFA Cup in 1981. For a small team like Ipswich it was an astonishing feat.

I realise that the book is not likely to be a global bestseller, but it is a wonderful story of a team that defied the odds. That would be inspiring anyway, even if I was not an Ipswich Town fan.

Apparent non-sequitur… all may become clear later…

In a meeting last week a friend mentioned that he was a patron of a retreat centre. For some bizarre reason I remembered that this morning and then (dangerously) started pondering what this meant.

Did he have a ceremony where he was patronised? Does he have to be patronising to the staff? Does this mean that he gives patronage? Is he now their patron saint? Is he a supporter or a customer? Will he be able to conjour up a protective spell in the manner of Harry Potter’s patronus?

I did warn you that the patronic ponderings were dangerous. The word ‘patron’ comes from the Latin ‘patronus’ (yes, really) that in turn is derived from ‘pater’ which means ‘father’. Wonderfully, therefore, it means that we are patronised by God! Not in a ‘ooh, that’s nice dear’ way. Nor even as our customer. But he is our biggest supporter. He offers us protection (and I believe that most of the time we are blissfully unaware of it) a lot of love and affection, whether I’m right or wrong… (cue Robbie Williams).

I don’t normally enjoy being patronised, but God can patronise me all he likes. And with his help I know that I as an individual and we as a church can do amazing things. Not so that people will go, “Aren’t they amazing?” but so that they will say, “Isn’t God amazing?”

The first BMS  Missionary, William Carey, famously said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” I say, “Amen!” to that, but would want to add a second stanza: “Achieve great things with God, give great glory to God.”

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?”

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t, dear,” she said. “I have to sleep with Daddy.”

A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: “The big sissy.”

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